Learning is a multifactorial process with a bipolar influence: between a teacher and a student and between a child and parents. Each individual is a unique and open system that has its own values and purposes. They are developing in different ways, but there are some common stages for most individuals. Children's game is a simulation of real relations in imaginary situations. It is a common stage of learning for all. The hierarchy and the social environment also affect the process of learning. It is a dominant exogenous factor whose influence states the power of authorities. There is also a set of internal factors with the domination of biological and personality traits among them.
In addition, there is a global factor that affects learning, which is culture. It provides the society with requirements for the qualities needed for adequate adult existence, but they are different for all cultures. To cope with such differences in the learning process, there are different teaching and learning strategies. The Montessori strategy has been chosen as an example. It forms a unique system of relations between a teacher and a student (child), helping them to develop their talents.
Learning is a part of the teaching process in which teachers provide students with useful skills and experience. This is a two-way process that combines the activity of a teacher (teaching) and students activities (learning). During teaching, the child takes over not only the teacher's knowledge but also a system of social memes that are dominant in society. Thus, the learning process is closely intertwined with the process of socialization.
All parents want their children to be healthy and harmoniously developed as a personality. In this regard, the study of the real social environment of the child at every stage of development and the environment, which practically forms childhood in general, is of special significance. The social environment is the totality of social relations in the society, as well as dominant social ideas and values. A favorable social environment is one where dominant ideas and values promote the development of a creative initiative individual. A child carries a set of genes of not only parents but also of distant ancestors, through which individual qualities arise and are developed.
Individuals in the Process of Socialization
Each individual is unique. As a result, each person incorporates a unique set of genetic material, which allows a better understanding of the personality. This creates a tendency to engage in some form of activity. However, all biological factors, which affect the learning process, are nothing without social impact (Jonassen & Grabowski, 2012). Social factors can both help develop individual abilities and disrupt this process. In the process of socialization, the individual receives a set of attitudes and values that influence choices and purposeful activity, as well as creating taboos and totems in all spheres of life.
Thus, it can be assumed that each individual learns differently. Taking the uniqueness of each individual as the norm, it is necessary to draw attention to the fact that the social environment influences each individual differently. Factors that motivate one person may be an inhibitor for another.
Simulation of Adult-Child Relationships
Children's game is a simulation of adult-child relationship in imaginary situations; the basic unit of this game is an important source for the development of consciousness and behavior of the child, i.e. the role. In general, the human's game as an activity in conventional situations is used for reconstruction and assimilation of social experience, skills, knowledge, and culture. Proponents of psychoanalysis consider the game to be a symbolic expression of unconscious tendencies. Play therapy as a form of corrective work is quite widespread.
For children of preschool age, the game is the main activity. Some games of preschool children have a pronounced similarity with games of animals, but even simple games such as catch and hide and seek are heavily influenced by and reformed in the cultural context. In games, children imitate adult labor activities, playing different social roles. At this stage, there already exists gender differentiation. A peculiar position is occupied by specially designed educational and therapeutic games. Games show individual and age characteristics of children.
At the age of 2-3 years, they begin to develop a logically figurative representation of reality. While playing, children start to give subjects a contextually mediated imaginary property to replace them with real objects. There are two main stages in the development of the game. The first of them (3-5 years) is a reproduction of the logic of real actions of people; actions with subjects become content of the game. At the second stage (5-7 years), instead of reproducing general logic, there appear simulations of real relations between people, which means that the content of the game at this stage includes social relations.
Thus, it can be assumed that children begin the learning process at the level of the gaming activity, which is often used in teaching. Since ancient times, the game has been a form of training and a primary school reproduction of real practical situations. Historically, one of the goals of the game is to develop necessary human traits, qualities, skills, habits, and abilities.
Parents are the very first socialization of a child and a major source of values and persons who shape its Super Ego. They are the primary social environment for the child. Without asking consent of the child, parents involve it in a specific discourse of social interaction. They form a list of what the child should learn and how to learn it properly. This impact on the child's behavior has a forcible and inevitable character for the child. Moreover, this forcibility is not recognized as an impact by the child. It takes place during the unconscious period of existence of the child.
Later, when the child begins to understand oneself, it is already too "late" as the impact has already taken place, it has performed the socialization function, and the child, as a person, has acquired some shape formed by certain influence. Identifying its own activity, the child directs it on the inner circle, for example, on parents, which improves its own experience by participating in it and developing social roles. Thus, the formation of the personality (or learning in the pedagogical design) for the child is always compulsory. Parents determine what needs to be done to correct or form the personality of the child. Later, this responsibility is delegated to teachers, professors, or other authorities.
However, the content and nature of these impacts are limited and conditioned by the needs and abilities of the child. The initial spontaneous activity of children is connected with the shaping influence of parents. If this influence is too weak and insufficient in terms of time or psychological engagement, the personal development of the child will slow down, becoming less intensive and losing the personal potential of the child. If the impact is excessive and significantly inadequate concerning the needs of the child, it becomes a pressure on the child's personality and response to such an impact also becomes inadequate, resulting in the information of personal disharmony at early stages.
As parents inevitably project their own psychological problems on their children, their impact is always potentially destructive. Another thing is the level of destructiveness of this impact, which is very individual. Therefore, the impact of the hierarchy and the social environment on the process of learning is significant. They are dominant exogenous factors that impact the learning process.
In addition, there is a set of internal factors that influence the process of learning. Among them, biological and related personality characteristics should be highlighted. Every child is different and not only in terms of appearance. They have differences in temperament and orientation of the personality, in the dominant component of motivation, in behavioral models, and other aspects. At the physiological level, despite the similarity of higher mental functions, there are significant differences in the volume of memory and ability to remember, which is connected with the volume of attention and the ability to switch it.
There are also differences in dominant analyzers, which affect the process of perception. In addition, the effect of emotional processes in the learning process is great. Emotions have subjective value for each individual, but their impact can both facilitate and inhibit the learning process. Thus, there is a simultaneous influence of exogenous and endogenous factors in the learning process. Their conscientious impact is manifested in dominant types of activity such as a game.
Signals That Are Received by the Student
Teachers' images and speech, instructions, and requirements are only a part of all the signals that are received by the student. At the same time, some interferences affect personal perception. These interferences can be in the form of behavior of other students and teachers, the exterior like a bird sitting on a branch outside of the window, steps behind the wall, and many other smaller events that are continuously taking place in the microcosm of the classroom. These interferences are mixed with memories, expectations, concerns, and reflections that come from within.
Moreover, information that is shown and told by the teacher may be incidental and redundant, which affects the learning process. Certain objects, events, or properties may cause the activity of the mind, which is expressed in attention, because they are related to internal sources of activity, i.e. the need for information, individual social instincts, and goals. As in any other activity, teaching is determined not only by subjective factors (student's attitude to the subject) but also by the objective ones (properties of the material to be memorized).
Changes in Personality in Childhood
Childhood in any society more than other periods of life is a time of continuous changes in personality exposed to the cultural environment. A universal characteristic of all cultures is the desire to transform the child into a happy and successful adult. However, happiness and success are understood differently in different cultures. Despite similarities in the understanding of the ultimate goal of development, different cultures have a huge variety of ideas about the content of this process. In every culture, there are requirements to qualities required for an adequate adult existence, but they differ for all cultures and environments.
For example, people who have to be successful in formal education are prepared for this since early childhood. At this age, they are already provided with books and relevant instructions. Another culture would accept the ability to weave and spin as a necessary component of adult life. In such a culture, children will join these classes at an early age. Each person in childhood is integrated into society and culture. By the time children become adults, they already know many customs and rules of social interaction and use them so often that they become their second nature.
Much of adult behavior is caused by these rules and is controlled by them automatically and unconsciously without thinking about how it is done. Culture in the broadest sense includes so many aspects of life that one cannot learn it just by reading about it in a book. Learning culture is a lengthy process that requires time and practice. It includes such aspects of the educational process as classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and social learning.
Early research on the development of children in different cultures has focused mainly on the role of culture in the management of the behavior of parents, leading to changes in children and adolescents (Cobern, 1993). This model assumes that culture provides an environment for parents, especially mothers, who, in turn, affect children in a certain way. It turns into the following system: culture - mother-child.
Other psychologists assume that a crucial role is played by biological characteristics, offering a model of development that begins with the influence of genes on the child's temperament, which, in turn, affects the mother's behavior and gives rise to cultural differences. It turns into the following system: genes - child-mother - culture. Data for the study of different cultures support both hypotheses. The style of parents' behavior, for example, confirms the first model, but researches about temperament and attachment prove the second model.
The most recent studies in this area contribute to the rapprochement of the two hypotheses and the development of the concept of the partnership of children and parents in the common creation of cultural manifestations. This view suggests that the reproduction of culture by children is the result of the active processing of received information and the creation of new cultural elements (Shade, Kelly, & Oberg, 1997).
Linguistic communication of parents with children sets the stage for the emergence of different points of view and new realities. These new theories try to find cultural manifestations that are created by the interaction of parents with children rather than by propagation and perception from the outside culture.
Studies have shown that the education system plays an important role in the creation of inter-ethnic differences in the process of learning of children, instilling in them certain cultural values. First of all, it concerns the content of the school curriculum. It reflects the cultural priorities of the society and its ideas of what is needed to be learned. Different cultures consider different subjects to be important for future success in life.
By investing in the learning of certain content, the educational system enforces a proper perspective on knowledge and intelligence. Another important factor that should be mentioned is the environment in which the learning process occurs. In the industrial society, the education system is formalized and has a certain recognizable structure (the school) and educational agents (teachers) that serve it.
In other cultures, formalized education can take place in small groups under the guidance of the elders. There are cultures in which formalized education is a family problem (for example, a mother can teach children skills necessary for members of the social group). Notwithstanding the environment in which the learning process occurs, it implements certain cultural values.
Organization and Planning of Lessons
Organization and planning of lessons are other important cultural factors. Some cultures follow the didactic principle of learning, under which the teacher provides students with information and they need to listen to it and remember it, thus performing the role of a walking encyclopedia. Other cultures assume the role of the teacher as a leader, providing such a construction of the lesson under which students learn some principles and concepts on their own. It is similar to the idea of the Socrates dialog, which makes both teacher and student learn new information.
In some cultures, praise is an integral part of the learning process; other cultures focus on students' errors. Sometimes, special classes for students of different types such as children with learning difficulties, children with disabilities, or gifted children are provided. In other cultures, on the contrary, teachers seek to neutralize differences between students by treating everyone equally.
Children who attend school spend most of their day away from their parents. The process of socialization, which has begun with their parents, continues in the company of their peers during games and the school society. The school teaches students certain cultural values and contributes not only to the development of their intelligence but also to the social and emotional development of students.
While seeing the role of the educational system as an agent of acculturation, it must be noted that not all cultures around the world accept that the learning process is the goal of school existence. For example, on the islands of Micronesia for the culture of Puluvat learning of skills, especially in math, is connected with navigation, while young inhabitants of the coast of Ghana and Brazil learn those skills during the sale of fish.
Regardless of the method of education, its structure, organization, and planning, it reinforces a certain cultural model of the society. An individual is not always fully aware of one's own culture because of living inside it. To evaluate choices, the education system of other cultures must be studied and all of them have to be compared. In this comparison, similarities and differences between education systems in different countries can be identified.
To help children with the learning process, there is a psychologist in school. The psychologist's duty is to work not only with children but also with their parents. It is important that the child gradually realizes the need to communicate with the psychologist. Children with differences/difficulties should not be separated from the main group. It will worsen their moral state and could become a trigger for depression, thus making it even more difficult for them to find common sense. In addition to the psychologist's work, every teacher should look after the class and take care of each student.
Maria Montessori (1972) developed a methodology based on years of observations of children's activities, which creates unique conditions for the development of motor skills by accumulating rich sensory experience and its gradual generalization by the child itself. The development of the child takes place most naturally, i.e. through innate desires for movement and a self-dependent use of a variety of materials, objects, and toys. Thanks to the development of fine motor skills, the overall development of the child is accelerated and the basis for learning how to read and write is provided. Some exercises come from everyday duties.
The child acquires an invaluable experience of a free, independent, conscious behavior in the world, which increases its independence and self-confidence. This method is used not only for children who have problems in development but also for normally developing children. One of the most important differences in this teaching method is the role of the teacher in the learning process. Teachers' task is to help the child to organize its activity in its own unique way, develop and release its potential, and help it to cope with problems.
To help children with differences/difficulties in learning, especially the ones who are from other cultures, school psychologists should use repeating training about tolerance and cooperation among students. Tolerance would help children from other cultures to be accepted by the school society, while cooperation between students would improve the total level of knowledge and would smooth out differences in cultures. Moreover, there is a serious problem of bullying, which also needs to be solved through the cooperation of psychologists, teachers, and school administration.
Withal, it should be mentioned that many internal and external factors affect the learning process. However, all of them can be eliminated with proper teachers and parents' help. Differences in learning are based on the biological and social features of individuals and societies. To smooth these differences, psychologists have to socialize individuals.